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Pak prepares for Mughal-e-Azam

Theatre owners are decking up their theatres to accommodate more viewers.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2006 18:26 IST

Mughal-e-Azam, the 1960 Indian classic already available through pirated prints and CDs and via private cable operators, is all set to hit three theatres in Pakistan's port city of Karachi.

People, young and old, are eagerly waiting to watch Mughal-e-Azam, which stars the legendary Dilip Kumar and the beauteous Madhubala as the star-crossed lovers, Prince Salim and Anarkali, Daily Times reported.

The film's official website that announces the release of the movie in big bold green colours is receiving numerous hits daily.

The release date, probably May 26, is still a subject of speculation. Nadeem Mandviwalla who owns Nishat Cinema, refused to confirm it.

But he is not taking any chances and is decking his theatre.

"We are changing the number of seats - the gallery seats are being decreased from 270 to 225. This is because we are bringing in new seats, which are bigger in size," he said.

The coloured version of Mughal-e-Azam will  release all over Pakistan on May 26.

While Nishat is projecting itself as the main theatre,

Mughal-e-Azam

, the colour version that was re-released in 2004, will be shown in other theatres across Pakistan as well.

For the people of Pakistan who yearn for Indian movies and seek them no matter which way, it is a triple bonanza.

Apart from Mughal-e-Azam, two other movies, Taj Mahal and Sohni Mahiwaal, have been given special permission for screening by the government of Pakistan.

Sohni Mahiwaal, which stars Poonam Dhillon and Sunny Deol, is a joint production between India and Russia, and is based on a Punjab folklore that is equally well-known in India and Pakistan. It was a hit when it was released in India in the 1980s.

Akbar Khan's Taj Mahal stars Pakistani singer Noorjehan's granddaughter Sonya Jehan.

Manzoor Jalbani, the manager of Bambino theatre in Karachi, said his cinema house too was being refurbished for the movie. Air conditioning, tiles and seats are being fixed and replaced.

"Our owners just returned from India and they wanted to refurbish everything. I advised them to do so because this will have a good effect on people. We are even updating our sound system," he said.

Jalbani said he was also interested in screening Taj Mahal.

As Karachi dresses up, some lesser known details of how Mughal-e-Azam was made have come out.

The project was initiated in 1944 by director K Asif. He took on Shiraz Ali as the financier, who left the project when he moved to Pakistan the following year. The movie was eventually completed with a new financier Shapoorji Pallonji, and released in 1960.

Shiraz Ali's son Saeed Shiraz, whose now lives in Karachi, said: "I was very small when my father passed away. I do not know the inside stories behind the making of the movie."

Mughal-e-Azam was released in 85 per cent black and white and 15 per cent colour. Asif wanted to colorise the entire project but had to stop with what he had after his distributors started losing patience. The film was made at an estimated cost of $3 million, a whopping sum in those days.